To-night the winds begin to rise
And roar from yonder dropping day:
The last red leaf is whirl’d away,
The rooks are blown about the skies;

The forest crack’d, the waters curl’d,
The cattle huddled on the lea;
And wildly dash’d on tower and tree
The sunbeam strikes along the world:

And but for fancies, which aver
That all thy motions gently pass
Athwart a plane of molten grass,
I scarce could brook the strain and stir

That makes the barren branches loud;
And but for fear it is not so,
The wild unrest that live in woe
Would dote and pore on yonder cloud

That rises upward always higher,
And onwards drags a labouring breast,
And topples round the dreary west,
A looming bastion fringed with fire.

by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)

from Favourite Poems of the Countryside (Batsford £14.99)